Hello folks, and how are you today. This week has been dogged by rain and has literally been a wash out.
I've been having trouble with my website all week and the folks from Weebly seem to have no idea how to deal with it - indeed, as I type these words, I have no idea whether they are going to reach anyone at all, and if this is a complete waste of my time.
I pay these guys a hefty sum of money each year and if I cannot reach customers and readers, there's not much point to it, is there? I used to see a blank page when I tried to load my website on previous occasions, and now to my horror, the message above is what I can see.
We hosted a barbeque last weekend - and that was a washout too - it didn't rain heavily, but kept up a miserable drizzle which meant that everyone came indoors and the house was in a terrible state by the time we finished, with around twenty people tramping through it. Cleaning up has taken the bulk of my spare time, but everyone enjoyed themselves, and that was the main thing. Michael insisted on cooking outdoors on the barbeque - which although meant to be portable, is so heavy that we would need to harness it to an elephant to move it. The last time this happened to us a few years ago, four strong men were required to move the damn thing from the garden into the garage. With all the uncertainty and moving from the garden into the house, back and forth I was quite exhausted and forgot to get pictures, which is quite rare for me as I am generally quite snap happy.
Between furious bouts of cleaning up, redistributing leftover food into the freezer and to people who would take it home, I set out to create a soutache pendant and am still at the stage where it is only half finished. I've taken some pictures quickly with my phone, so that you can be part of my journey, as ever. Hopefully you will get to see it shortly when the guys from Weebly wake up and come to work in a couple of hours and I can set them to work sorting out my website.
This is how I intend to complete the piece next week, and find some way of stringing it into a necklace. The dichroic glass cabochon at the centre of the larger piece was bought at an art fair and is really pretty. Unfortunately, I cannot remember who the artisan was.
That's me for this week, folks. I shall go to work now, and sort out the good chaps from Weebly when I get back. If you can read this and have any suggestions for me, do share them in the comments below. I am thinking of moving over to Wordpress - what do you think? I know it will be hell on legs to make the move - but what choice do I have? This is annoying me so much, I've taken to grinding my teeth when I think of my website, and very soon I shall have no enamel left on my molars.
Catch you next week - hopefully, same time, same place
Hello folks, hope you are well this fine morning. The sun is shining and all's well with the world - well not all, given recent events in the UK, but it feels like it in the sunshine. Those of us who live in the Northern Hemisphere know the importance of going out in the sunshine and basking in the rays - we see the sun so little. I've was out in the garden, weeding and sorting out the pot plants, spraying the roses and generally getting my hands dirty.
Between times, I embarked on my most ambitious project yet. A client in India handed me an old necklace of her's to remake - two strands of lovely jet beads with a few tarnished diamante spacers, and when I told her I was planning to make a soutache pendant in blue, she said she'd prefer green. So I picked a couple of colour treated green solar quartz cabochons out from my stash and started to think about what I was going to do with them.
The jet beads were so shiny and beautiful, it had to be an evening necklace. I decided to add diamante chain, and a couple of beetle wings to the mix with no idea about what I was going to do with them. I fixed the cabochons and wings onto Lacy's Stiff Stuff which is a felted stiff card for beading and set out to put them all into beaded bezels - by now I had decided that it would be a two part pendant, with the wings flanking the oval stone,
I beaded away well into the night every evening after work. It was like watching a story unfold as I really had no set plan - the whole thing was evolving as I went along and I was keen to see how the piece would look at the end. I made the bottom part of the pendant first and embellished it with beads and soutache braids that accentuated the green of the cabochon and the jet beads in the necklace.
And then came the top - the cabochon was vaguely teardrop shaped and I had to decide which way it was going to hang - with the pointy end or the broader end, and place the ends of the soutache braid accordingly. Decisions, decisions!
At last it was time to see how the two went together, and hey presto, it was a good fit. My only criticism was it looked a bit top heavy, so I had to come up with some way to increase the bulk of the lower half.
I added another row of Japanese Miyuki square glass beads and edged the top part of the piece with green crystals, as by this time I had decided that this pendant required, nay, deserved, a tasseled fringe.
This piece was becoming a tour de force - and I toiled over the tiny beads every night, only stopped by the fact that I ran out of the pale green crystal beads and had to order some more, praying that the colour would match the ones I had already used. If they didn't, I was getting ready mentally to cut the fringe out and start again with the new string of beads as nothing was going to stop this baby from being a beauty.
Fortunately for me, the colours matched and I finished the fringe off - all I needed was four more beads, wouldn't it have been such a shame if I had to start over for the want of four beads? That'll teach me to count my beads before I start! For one reason and another, work was ever so busy but this pendant occupied my evenings so gainfully that the week flew by.
The back was lined with blue felt to add colour between the Miyuki squares and the whole thing backed with black ultrasuede. And finally, it was time to join up the two halves of the pendant.
I strung the jet beads simply, using little green seed beads as spacers, and an extension chain with a Baroque crystal on the end and it was done.
Ta Dah!! - The final reveal
Would you agree that it is fit for a princess?? I certainly think so and hope that Omana, for whom it is designed, agrees with me. I hope she feels like a princess when she wears it - I know there's nothing like it in Bangalore where she lives and she should certainly have all eyes on her at whatever event she decides to wear it to Here she is in another piece by Caprilicious. I can so see her in this necklace, can you??
That's me for this week folks, have a fabulous week and I'll catch you next weekend, same time, same place. Until then
Hello folks, and how are you today? Everywhere around me I see frantic preparations for Christmas and I feel like I am the only calm person at the eye of a storm that rages madly around me. I have done nothing, yes, nothing towards Christmas, and what's more, am not really bothered about it!
As I type, The Last Temptation of Christ is playing on the telly on silent - there's a very good looking blonde guy in Lagenlook robes stopping a crowd of wild eyed men from stoning a beautiful woman in fabulous jewellery - perhaps they were miffed because they couldn't afford her prices? I assume it's the story of ' cast ye not the first stone - not very Christmassy, is it?
I covet her jewellery - she's wearing some fabulous silver around her neck; and his robes are quite fashionable these days - beige linen layered over a white undershirt, with strappy sandals, very modish! I'm only watching it because it is an unlikely film for Martin Scorcese to direct and all the controversy that surrounded it. Of course, watching it with the sound turned on intermittently isn't helping me much, but the bits that I watched properly haven't exactly been gripping!
The Christmas ads are getting more inventive than ever - this is the cutest one this year - and no, I'm not getting a kickback from John Lewis'.
I've been taking stock of all I've done this year - I've learned to make soutache jewellery and to solder, have made strides in my handling of metal clay although there's a long way to go, reopened my Etsy shop and had a good response and consistent five star feedback from people who shopped there. I opened an Instagram account and taught myself to use it, wrote four tutorials and have been retained by a UK magazine for jewellery makers to write four more next year, and written yet another for an online journal based in the USA to be published in the New Year.
I've continued with wire and polymer clay all year and participated in 3 little shows mainly for charity and one in India, as well as a couple of online auctions. I continue to post my blog on a weekly basis come what may, chronicling my designs. I enjoy writing it, adding music and poetry and little stories to spice the blog up.
The only technique I haven't played with is enamelling - who knows, maybe next year will be when I take it up again. Of course, I work full time, and have been crazy enough to take on the added responsibility of being the Clinical Service Lead and have been recruited to be the Principal Investigator in a national clinical trial, apart from the other daily stuff that goes on.
Before you ask, I have help with the housework, an indulgent husband and do not have any children to run around after. So yes, there's plenty of time to do all these things. I also think that if one has a passion for something, time miraculously appears in the busiest schedule to pursue it.
Making Handmade from Handmade
I'm firmly convinced that this is the way forward for Caprilicious. I love the idea of making my own pendants and clasps and even beads - if Caprilicious is to produce one of a kind jewellery, I will have to go one better than buying in components and assembling a necklace, or worse still, buying in a piece of jewellery and reselling it. Of course, both these endeavours have their merits and can be difficult. After all, loads of people can buy in the same pendant, but come up with different results with the final piece of jewellery - it's all in the way they put colours and shapes together and their own personal design ethic.
With this in mind, I've been putting out tentative feelers for people who might like to collaborate with me - with me making the basic findings and them making the jewellery. It would be a most interesting experiment to see what other people come up with using my components, against what I might make myself.
I have decided to make photo journals as I make my components, as an aide memoire so that I will remember how to remake them if needed. However, I don't really want to make too many of the same piece as then the phrase 'one of a kind' then becomes rather meaningless (and because I have a short attention span and get easily bored). Perhaps these photo journals will be the basis for other tutorials, later on.
The Octopuses Garden
Inspired by the work of Kay Bonitz, I played with my collection of Czech beads and came up with this little pendant. I used up a small collection of orphan dagger beads and eventually a credible pendant arrived on my work surface ( that's a posh term for a bead tray in my lap). I wasn't entirely happy with it as it's a bit untidy at the back, but as a first effort I thought it wasn't too bad, and I wore it to work in the morning. The blues and greens are striking together and I got loads of compliments, and that's why I have the 'cat that's got the cream' look in the photograph!
When last in Morocco we escaped from the craziness that is Marrakesh and slipped away to the beautiful and calm seaside town of Essaouira. The taxi ride there was scary and put hairs on my chest, but we were soothed by the Heure Bleue Palais hotel, which is simply fabulous. In memory of that holiday and in the hope of another in beautiful Morocco, I made this necklace with ornate Moroccan amulet beads and lapis lazuli slab nuggets.
I've been making plans for my annual show in India. My friend who previously helped out with the invitation cards is in the middle of an exciting move to China, but she showed me how to do it myself. I've had a load of fun playing with images and fonts and have come up with my own design. The room at Raintree is booked and hopefully the monetary situation in India eases by February as I am as yet unable to find a company who will provide a card reading machine to a business that isn't registered in India.
That's me for this week, folks. I will be back next Friday, as usual, have a lovely week and I'll catch you same time, same place next week.
Hiya folks, thanks for coming by to have a look at the goings on at Caprilicious. This week, I've been stretching myself and moving waaaay out of my comfort zone. As a teenager, my mother taught me some embroidery skills and I decided then that this was definitely not something I would pursue. The needles seem to spring to life in my hands, attacking me and biting me deep enough to draw blood and stain the cloth I was working on and the threads turned into snakes that moved with a will of their own and got tangled and knotted. The air used to be blue around me and I invented a few really interesting swear words. And of course, I'd never beaded - beading work in India is done by the finest artisans and I would never have thought of ever attempting to compete with them.
It surprised me then, when for no particular reason my eyes were drawn to soutache jewellery and bead weaving. Perhaps it was the beauty of the stones I brought back from Jaipur or just the need to do something different. I'm not sure what the impetus was for this new direction I am taking, but here it is!!
I want to tell you a bit about Soutache jewellery. Soutache, also known as Russian braid is a tightly woven flat braid, used mainly on the uniforms of the soldiers in France and Eastern European countries from the 1800's. The braids were used to conceal seams, create embellishments and indicate rank on military uniforms.
A textile designer from Israel, Dori Csengri was playing around with pieces of the braid one day in the mid eighties, and in an Eureka! moment she designed a piece of soutache jewellery. How amazing is that! Since then the best proponents of soutache appear to come from Eastern Europe.
Soutache jewellery can be very colourful and that idea, as always, excites me as the possibilities are endless.
The technique is painstaking and slow. The braids have to be lined up so that the weaves are all lying in the same direction, tiny stitches to be inserted invisibly into the ridge between the two sides of the braid, tension maintained, beads added, and the whole piece backed with ultrasuede - and I, Ms. Needle Hater, was dismayed. However the call of the colours in this particular form of jewellery could not be ignored.
Of course being me, I couldn't possibly do anything simple and easy, could I? I decided that I had to learn basic bead weaving to embellish the cabochons as well. The stones can be attached to the backing with glue and surrounded with soutache braids, but the wire worker in me scorns the use of glue to hold a stone in place in perpetuity. I wanted to use tiny seed beads to weave a setting around the cabochon (there goes my eyesight!) and having made a few practice pieces, I decided to take a class to consolidate my knowledge of the technique and pick up a few extra pointers along the way.
The class was in London and I booked it well in advance and organised time off from the day job. I took the train to London nice and early, at the ungodly hour of 7am ( well, as far as I am concerned 7am is an ungodly hour), took a tube to Whitechapel and then found that I had arrived a day too early!.
Oh No! I went back home and did it all again the next day, there was nothing else for it. I even met the same Punxsutawney Phil's on the train, they were obviously commuters who go up to London on the train every day. It takes an hour and six minutes to get in to Euston, and of course, it is much cheaper to live in Warwickshire, even with the train fares. I sat in the sunshine and had a coffee at the same Turkish cafe - it really was a Groundhog Day moment. I made a couple of little pieces at the class. They provided us with ugly acrylic cabochons, cheap cotton thread with Bengali writing on the packaging that snapped as soon as I looked at it and plastic pearls and I couldn't bring myself to waste my energy on making anything that resembled jewellery with that lot - I know, I am such a snob! I can't understand why they would stint on supplies as the prices they charged were steep enough for them to have provided us with halfway decent stuff. Anyway, I learned the how to's and how not to's and was happy with that.
And then the fun part - SHOPPING! I sent off for braid and seed beads, needles and strong thread, researching the best supplies and designs as I went along and adding to another Pinterest board - I really don't know what I did before Pinterest. Presently I had enough supplies to make my first piece. To my pleasant surprise the Fireline thread I bought is very strong, fishing line covered by silk and it doesn't get tangled easily - it is just hell on legs to thread the needle with it as the beading needles are tiny.
The colours of the solar quartz in this necklace look so much like the waters of Copacabana Beach and the swirls of braid are joyous. I started out with a vague idea in mind, and ended up with this piece...
The blue quartz needles go so well with the pendant, would you agree??
Here are some pictures of another piece I started this week, my eyes and fingers needed a bit of a rest and I had to wait for the green beads to arrive. This time I kept a pictorial diary in Instagram - have you looked at the Caprilicious Instagram account??
It is called caprilicious_by_neena_shilvock, and I post updates as I go along if I remember to bring my mobile phone to my seat in front of the telly.
There's a way to go yet and I may not be finished by the time this blog comes out - I'm calling this one The Girl From Ipanema! I see a definite Art Deco face here and I also have an idea of how to string it. My next piece will be from a cabochon of Bumble Bee Jasper - I love the blacks and yellows in the stone that give it it's name.
That's me for this week, folks. I hope you've enjoyed the read. Do come back next week, see you on Friday, same time, same place.
I'm Neena Shilvock, and I'm crazily addicted to jewellery. I've been designing and making quirky and interesting statement necklaces for the last five years and my passion hasn't cooled off one little bit - in fact it has got worse, such that I'm even dreaming jewellery.
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I would love to hear from you - please leave a comment on the blog or send an email to jewellerybycaprilicious(at)gmail.com
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